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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Slog Poll: Are You a Super Reader?

Posted by on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 8:04 AM

This essay in The Atlantic about the Amazon/GoodReads deal has a very interesting fact tucked away in the middle:

The United States is not, sadly, a country of lit buffs. In 2008, a little more than half of all American adults reported reading a book in the past year, according to the National Endowment of the Arts. And as shown in the graph below, which like the other charts in this piece come courtesy of the industry researchers at Codex Group, just 19 percent read a dozen or more titles.

Or, to put it another way, 19 percent of Americans did 79 percent of all our book readin'.

The essay refers to the 19 percent of book-happy Americans as "super fans," and suggests that GoodReads was an easy way for to get a hold of a significant chunk of those fans. I obviously fall in that 19 percent figure, as I read anywhere from three to five books a week, usually. But it left me wondering how much Slog reads. So how about it, Slog?


Comments (41) RSS

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Fnarf 1
Slog poll is going to be skewed, of course. If you don't read books, you probably don't read blogs much either.
Posted by Fnarf on April 2, 2013 at 8:16 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 2
Half of America does not even read one book a year?

Sad face, sad trombone.

Can I get a "Super Reader" tag along with my "Swashbuckling Hero" tag?

Twelve books a year is not that much. I probably read a bout four books a year in ten minute installments just on the can at work.

Reading 1984 just now for the first time. Winston just bought that weird little glass paperweight thing and is contemplating renting that room above the antique shop. Will put down another chapter or so at my after lunch appointment.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on April 2, 2013 at 8:22 AM · Report this
My reading is way down since I discovered free audiobooks from the library.
Posted by Nonymous on April 2, 2013 at 8:26 AM · Report this
Allyn 4
I'm reading a book on my phone laid next to my keyboard right now.

I really do have a ton of work to do, but this is a really good book.
Posted by Allyn on April 2, 2013 at 8:30 AM · Report this
julie russell 5
Mr Russell & I read in bed every night. Usually 4 or 5 books a month.
Posted by julie russell http:// on April 2, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
AmyC 6
My reading's way down since I started that whole law school thing (if you don't count textbooks and legal research, which I don't), but I still manage 15-20/year. I just feel like I go crazy if it's been longer than a week or two since I had my nose in a decent book. Even if I do only get in toilet-time reading. :)
Posted by AmyC on April 2, 2013 at 8:32 AM · Report this
TVDinner 7
Does reading several Amelia Bedelia books to a three-year-old each day count?
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM · Report this
T 8
I'm in the ±1/year group. I'd read more, but I never seem to have the time to just sit and enjoy a book for any length of time (and if I try reading on the can, I end up sitting there too long and my legs fall asleep).
Posted by T on April 2, 2013 at 8:41 AM · Report this
Tsarcastic 9
I was having problems getting a second date before, but now that I can tell them I'm a Super Reader I'm sure they'll be lining up around the block.

I try to read a book a week, but I only hit 42 books last year.
Posted by Tsarcastic on April 2, 2013 at 8:53 AM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 10
The Future Mrs. Dr Awesome reads a book a week, minimum. Mostly fantasy/swords and dragons trash, but she reads. Her hillbilly brother loudly bellows "Ah hates readin' books!" as loudly and as often as possible.
It's hard to believe they are related.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on April 2, 2013 at 8:54 AM · Report this
well_now 11
I'm in the 2-12 per year. I read a lot, but it's mostly academic papers and not actual books.
Posted by well_now on April 2, 2013 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 12
I saw Fellini's Satyricon this weekend and it put me in mind to read Petronius.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on April 2, 2013 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 13
3-5 books a week? When do you sleep?

Though I can't come close to that pace, I probably average about a book a week. I know that is more than most of my friends, but I had no idea that made me a super reader.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM · Report this
imbecile 14
I average about two books per week. How can anyone not read? My reading habit was problematic when only "real" books were available, as they piled up everywhere and took over all available surfaces. But now, having an e-reader, this problem has been solved.
Posted by imbecile on April 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM · Report this
fletc3her 15
I'd say I read 24 to 36 books a year. 12 for my book club alone. Not as many as I did when I was younger.

Just finished Cold Days by Jim Butler and An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret. Next up Salt, Sugar, Fat and Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme.

FWIW, I think audio books should count toward the total.
Posted by fletc3her on April 2, 2013 at 9:06 AM · Report this
seatackled 16
Do graphic novels count? Because then the number skyrockets for me.
Posted by seatackled on April 2, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Allyn 17
@7 if they count, I read about 1484 books per year.

Posted by Allyn on April 2, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
I wonder how this information correlates to quality and access to a library system. I certainly read more than 12 books a year but I sure as shit don't purchase all of them (maybe 3 of every 12 or so).

I can walk to the library; as a result I read all the time. (Something else the article missed: one of the first places I go is the staff picks shelf in the library.) Finish a book, return it, grab a new one.

We talk about 'food deserts'; what about 'lit deserts'?
Posted by bitethemailman on April 2, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
My reading is way down this year as i start to struggle with 50 year old eyes. way down to maybe 100 books a year! Seriously, how do you not read at least 1 book per week? when i was in college i read 10-15 per week.
Posted by vincula on April 2, 2013 at 9:35 AM · Report this
sikandro 20
I read thirty-some last year, and I feel like I don't read that much, mostly on the bus to and from work.
Posted by sikandro on April 2, 2013 at 9:36 AM · Report this
Posted by devinderry on April 2, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 22
Came here to practice my humblebragging, but I got nothin' really. The physical books I buy, I tend to use as pedestals for lamps around the house. On my various e-reading thingies I'll click from title to title to see how little progress I've made in each. I'm solidly a magazine type of fella now.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on April 2, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
@4 - Thanks for this, I understand now why a lot of my friends say they read their books on their phones. I just didn't get it before. I understand e-readers, but phones are tiny...? but if you're reading on the sly, using your phone, then, hmm, maybe I need to upgrade my phone. Genius.

@6 - If you're still in school, you get a pass and an automatic "I've read" 50 books a year credit.

@7 - No, picture books don't count, however, have you considered reading "chapter books" to your kids at bedtime? "Little House on the Prairie" books? "Land of Oz" books (there are 10+ of them)? or Beatrix Potter (can buy big book with all of them in it).

@16 - Yes, I think graphic novels count, manga, etc.

Posted by Bugnroolet on April 2, 2013 at 10:01 AM · Report this

I'm an outlier on this. I read blogs almost exclusively as my main form of reading.
Posted by No Excuses on April 2, 2013 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Gurldoggie 25
I finish 3-4 books a month, and wish so fervently that I had the time to read more. I don't feel like a super reader, more like a dilettante.
Posted by Gurldoggie on April 2, 2013 at 10:21 AM · Report this
I'm in the 2-12 category: My excuses are-I'm a slow reader, I don't read on buses (too noisy), read too many internet blogs, too much DVR catchup on favorite cable shows, and after work exhaustion.
Posted by neo-realist on April 2, 2013 at 10:27 AM · Report this
sikandro 27
@24. I think it's more likely Fnarf is wrong on this, and that you're probably not atypical in being someone that reads a lot of shorter internet content but not many books. That describes a lot of the people whose reading habits I'm familiar with.
Posted by sikandro on April 2, 2013 at 10:47 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 28
Paul, 3 to 5? Good lord. How many hours per day and pages per hour?

1-3 books per month here.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on April 2, 2013 at 10:49 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 29
Most years I'm in the 2-12 books/year category. But sometimes I get ambitious and go over that.


1984 was the last (good) book I read, also for the first time. Absolutely loved it!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on April 2, 2013 at 10:52 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 30
@21 Thanks for that. Very curious.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on April 2, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
if audio books count i am read to about 4 books a week (i listen to them when i'm in the studio since its really hard to make art and read at the same time) its a pretty even split between urban fantasy, history, and non-fiction of the bill bryson or mary roach bent. as far as real books its fallen to a few a year outside of research where i'm just picking a few chapters out of something. i love the physicality of books but it comes down to either reading them and not making any work or listening to someone else read em while i get a ton done.
Posted by i've listened to more than most this year alone on April 2, 2013 at 10:59 AM · Report this
samktg 32
@11, Yeah, same boat.
Posted by samktg on April 2, 2013 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Jessica 33
GoodReads has actually been beneficial in this aspect, I use it to challenge myself to see how much I can read, and it's much easier to update and track from my phone as opposed to the word docs I used from 2006-2011. Last year I read 142 books. And don't tell me I have time-- I was parenting and in graduate school. Bless the e-reader and a lifelong habit of sticking a book in my bag every time I walk out the door.
Posted by Jessica on April 2, 2013 at 11:19 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 34
I count as a super-reader but I don't feel especially proud of my reading. Mostly it's about elves fighting/having sex with vampires and shit like that.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on April 2, 2013 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 35
@34 heresy. I read mostly stories about the undead fighting elvish vampires and winning.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 2, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
kj 36
I don't think anybody needs to make excuses for the volume or content of their reading. My students (college) seem to be reading more books than they did a few years ago, which is cool. Some people would call the bulk of what they choose trash, but I don't care. It makes me happy to see them enjoying reading.

Personally, I read 2-3 books per week, but not everybody can do that. I'm fast, I will read any time I even have 2-5 minutes waiting in line, and I always carry a book and ereader. My brother reads much more slowly and probably finishes 6 fat novels a year, mostly during his bus commute. It seems like he remembers what he reads better than I do, also.
Posted by kj on April 2, 2013 at 1:13 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 37
I would make a snarky comment about the dum-dums in this country, but mostly I just find it sad that even the dummies aren't so much as reading the mass markets you can buy at the grocery store.
Posted by keshmeshi on April 2, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
stirwise 38
Do comics and magazines count? I read probably 5-10 book-books annually, but I read the new yorker and a slew of comics weekly. It's gotten to where, if I'm busy, I might not touch a book for months, even though I'm still reading for leisure a couple hours a day. I used to have a short enough walking commute that I could get some reading done on foot, but since my work and home both relocated it's not really workable.
Posted by stirwise on April 2, 2013 at 4:31 PM · Report this
I don't have half the time I'd like to spend on reading, but it's still apparently enough to make me super. I usually keep a nonfiction book going at the breakfast table and some fiction that I carry around and/or read at bedtime. Sometimes I'll have an audiobook going on top of that. It's not uncommon for a book to take me months to finish. Goodread says in the first three months of this year I finished six books, not counting audio. One of them, The Pale King, took two months.
Posted by Prettybetsy on April 2, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
An apt quote from James Morrow, whom Paul turned me on to:

“The odor of bowel wind is known to every human, but the fragrance of book glue has crossed only a fraction of mortal nostrils. And yet it behooves us not to judge the unlettered too harshly. We must stay the impulse to write CHUCKLEHEAD above their doors and carve DOLT upon their tombstones.”
― James K. Morrow
Posted by hairyson on April 2, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
seriously? even with my 50 year old eyes i read 2 books a week. when i was in college it was 12 (go to the library Friday night, check out 15 books - read straight through the weekend. no, i didn't party much but that's when i learned to quit sleeping).
Posted by vincula on April 2, 2013 at 6:23 PM · Report this

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